High Altitude Linked to IBD Flares?

Elizabeth Roberts Health Guide
  • In perusing news and studies on IBD, I came across an interesting one from a group of Swiss researchers at Triemli Hospital in Zurich.


    Lead researcher, Stephan Vavicka, MD, chief of the Division of Gastorenterology and Hepatology presented the studies findings during the 2012 Digestive Disease Week in San Diego. The study shows a potential link between high-altitude flights or journeys (those above 6,500 ft.) and a higher relapse rate than those IBDers who stayed at lower altitudes. 


    In the study, 52 recently relapsed IBD patients and 51 IBD patients in remission were asked about their lifestyle and activities for the previous months. There were a similar number of IBD patients with Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis in the study.

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    Twenty-one of the 52, or 40.4 percent, of the IBDers who recently relapsed reported flying or journeying to a height of at least 6,500 ft. above sea level within the previous month compared to eight of 51, or 15.7 percent, of patients in stable remission who said they did the same.

    Even more interesting is that a majority of those who reported relapsing experienced symptoms after returning from high altitude instead of during their stay at high alititude.


    University of Michigan Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology Peter Higgins, MD, PhD, was not involved in the study but says the findings have potential clinical utility that need to be validated in a prospective study.


    This is of particular interest to me because I currently live at 6,500 ft. and had my worst flare (it lasted years) when I lived at 6,800 ft. I still find I don't feel well above 8,000 ft. but that doesnt' always include a UC flare.


    It would be interesting to hear other IBDers experiences of traveling or staying at high altitude. Have you had any similar experiences?



    PubMed.gov, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23953239

Published On: September 03, 2013